northwayNo one who has known us for a long time is surprised that we have become foster parents. Personally, I am always a little annoyed by the people who easily say “yes” to life-changing decisions. “We toured this house once, and immediately put in an offer.”  Nothing against them, it’s just not me. I was the girl who needed to go to every store within 10 (okay mom, 20) miles, and then back to the first before buying my prom dress. My partner and I were together six years before getting married and buying a house. Two years later, we got a dog.

We didn’t always know we were going to be foster parents. We weren’t always “those kind of people.” We met working at summer camp, group homes and residential treatment centers. Lori teaches kids with emotional and behavioral disabilities. I am a case manager for individuals suffering from mental illness. Most of the foster parents I have met aren’t “those kind of people” either. I have met many nice individuals with an open idea to family.

We were drawn to stories of kids in foster care, stories of redemption and stories of people finding family. After being drawn in by those stories over and over again, we attended an informational meeting. We talked about kids we could to parent. After much deliberation, we said we were ready for 1 or 2 kids, ages 4 and under. You know that saying, “you make plans and God laughs?”

We said “no” to the first two phone calls we received (yes, you can say, “no”). Then, we received a phone call for a little boy who we were meant to parent. He was a 3-day-old, healthy baby boy. We could have easily stopped there. But for us, there has been no looking back. We went into this to build our family. We are licensed to foster-to-adopt. Along the way, we have fostered, taking in three emergency placements, which turned out to be for a short time. We then decided to bring our little guy’s big sisters, ages 5 and 11, into our family. It took us nearly four months to make the decision, but we’re glad we did.

While tucking my 5-year-old into bed, she asked, “How come you didn’t want a baby to grow in your tummy like your sister-in-law?” I told her if I had a baby in my tummy the baby wouldn’t have been as sweet, caring, smart or funny as she was. And it’s true.

Sometimes I wonder if I have what it takes to parent these kids, who have been through so much. I don’t know if I am strong enough. But, I remember if they weren’t here going through this with me, they would still be on this path. The idea of them out there alone sparks my mother bear instinct. Sometimes, I can’t do much more than wrap them in a hug, but they need to be here for me to do that.

~Jean Northway, licensed foster parent


Becoming a foster family wasn’t an easy decision, but it was the right decision — 2 Comments

  1. Becoming a foster parent was the best decision for my husband and I. We already have been raising our grandson since he was 2 days old but he seemed to be very lonely. So after much decision and talking we had the chance to take in my great nephew, and the process was started. After only 2 months of welcoming little C into our home we were a licensed level two foster home. Maureen was great with us through the whole process. The home study was more laughs than we had in a long time. We can’t wait to see what the future brings for our family. Each day seeing these boys grow together is such a happiness deep with in the soul. We may not have much money but we have all the love and happiness to make the boys very happy.

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